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U.S. Hopes China Will Free Prisoners

July 16, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States hopes the release of China’s longest-serving political prisoner will lead to other detainees winning their freedom.

Tanak Jigme Sangpo, a Tibetan scholar, arrived in Washington on Saturday after he was paroled for medical treatment. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker did not say whether Jigme Sangpo was still in the capital.

The 74-year-old primary school teacher was released Saturday in Beijing so he could seek medical treatment in the United States. He suffers from high blood pressure and coronary disease.

``We welcome Jigme Sangpo’s release, and hope that there will be other releases of those detained for the peaceful expression of their political or religious views,″ Reeker said Tuesday.

Jigme Sangpo has been in and out of prison over the past 32 years. He was serving 28 years on charges of counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement when he was released on medical parole with nine years remaining on his sentence.

According to the London-based Tibet Information Network, Jigme Sangpo was first sentenced to three years of ``re-education through labor″ in 1965, and also served a 10-year sentence from 1970-1980 for political activities.

Jigme Sangpo was arrested again in September 1983 and sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of ``counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda″ for campaigning against Chinese rule in Tibet. That sentence was extended twice and had been due to expire on Sept. 3, 2011.

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